The boss (sometimes called ‘the Don’), is the head or leader of the crime family. He makes all the major decisions within the family, and is akin to the CEO of a company in that respect. All money flows up to the boss, as everyone below him is expected to ‘pay tribute’ or kick money up from all deals and rackets they are involved with. As he receives a cut from everyone in his family, he is generally a very wealthy man! In principle, the boss should be highly respected and widely feared. He is also one of the few people who can initiate members into the family, the others being the underboss or the consigliere.
The underboss is second in the chain of command in the family, with only the boss wielding more authority than him. The power of the underboss can vary from family to family, but they generally resolve disputes within the ranks and are ready to step-up to the role of boss should anything happen to the reigning Don through circumstances such as ill health or criminal conviction.
The consigliere (or counselor) acts as an advisor, both to the boss and also to other ranks within the family. His views and decisions are meant to be completely impartial and based on fairness. The consigliere is usually elected by fully-fledged members of the family, rather than appointed by the boss – but in reality, consiglieres are sometimes appointed, and their decisions are not always impartial.
The caporegime (or sometimes known as the capodecina in the Sicilian Mafia), often shortened to just capo, is the head of a crew of soldiers in the family. He is a high-ranking member, and has influence and social status. He receives a cut of the money made by his soldiers and associates, and will kick a percentage up to the bosses of the family. He reports to the boss and underboss, and is given instructions by them. The capo and his crew will usually have a specific territory in a certain area in which to work. The caporegime can also be known as skipper or lieutenant
The soldier is the lowest ‘rank’ within the family. Soldiers will have very little power and are generally used to do the dirty work. They are used for various jobs – committing murder or doing hits, extortion, death threats, arson, blackmailing, witness intimidation, jury intimidation, paying off witnesses, bombing, police and political corruption. They are the real workers of the family who will work the streets making money and killing for the bosses and the organization. Much of the money they make on the streets finds it’s way to the higher-ups in the family.
Crime families will often use associates. These are not actual members of the family but they sometimes work with soldiers and capos on various criminal jobs or rackets. An associate is simply someone who is trusted enough to work with members of the organization.
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